As that law stands the “double jeopardy” rule prevents suspects being tried for the same offence twice, unless it is classed as a serious crime.
Campaigners want child sexual abuse cases to be classed amongst the list of 30 serious crimes. This campaign has received support from former footballers and various charities, who agree that child sexual abuse should be classed as a serious crime.
Bob Higgins, the former football coach was convicted in May for indecently assaulting 23 boys between 1971 and 1996. 95 people came forward with allegations against Higgins, but the original 6 victims could not be part of the May trial as they were subject to the double jeopardy rule. Higgins had been found not guilty of the allegations against him in 1992. One of the victims of Higgins, Dean Radford, has started a petition and would like child sex abuse to be listed amongst the 30 serious crimes.
Dame Vera Baird, who is the victim’s commissioner, has written to the new Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland QC, as the Ministry of Justice has agreed to a review. Dame Baird said that: “We now have a much better understanding of the terrible and long-term consequences of sexual offences committed against children. I am not suggesting a significant increase in the number of offences, but simply those focussed on the typical activity of a child abuser.”
Various charities including The Survivors Trust, Support Line, Survivors UK and Kinergy are also backing the petition to change the double jeopardy rule in child sexual abuse cases.
Support Line said that the changes “would give recognition of the severity of the crime and encourage more victims to come forward to report crimes of sexual abuse”.
Philip Walker of The Survivors Trust, said that the existing double jeopardy law as “grossly unfair to survivors of sexual violence and child sexual abuse and it fails to take into account the seriousness and severity of sexual violence and child sexual abuse”.
A spokesman for The Survivors Trust also showed statistics that that three quarters of victims of sexual offences do not report their crime. “The statistics speak for themselves – all victims of sexual offences should have faith in their legal system to feel they could achieve justice. Child sexual abuse is a heinous crime which has no place in our society.”
“There are occasions where the Court of Appeal can order a retrial of an acquitted defendant if new, compelling evidence comes to light and we are reviewing which offences this covers.”
If you have been a victim of child abuse and would like to speak to one of our specialist abuse lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. Jordans successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. We are representing victims of abuse suffered by Bob Higgins Our abuse team can be contacted on 0800 9555 094.